December 2016 - IEA Zone 10 Report

Five things I wish I knew before my first IEA show.

by Corie Astroth

1. Random horses are a blessing and a curse.​ The random horse draw makes IEA unique and attempts to even the playing field between riders. Many riders love this part of IEA. It creates an exciting opportunity to ride different horses. Watching the jumping and flat class warm-ups always provides for great entertainment, as riders judge the best way to ride each horse and contemplate their favorites.
However, IEA horses vary greatly from an old school horse to a fancy show horse. There will be times in IEA where every rider gets a “bad” draw, generally characterized by the horse being more difficult to ride than the other options. During these times never insult or blame the horse, as the owners are generally at the show and have generously donated their horse to be used. Embrace the challenge and trust that every IEA rider understands the variability of the horse draw.

2. There are large amounts of time in between classes.​ Because IEA is split into a jumping section of the day and a flat section, riders in every division will experience the hours of time between their jumping class and flat class. Although the day starts with the 2’6” riders’ jumping class, all the other jumping divisions will compete before the 2’6” flat, and so on through the divisions. This increases team bonding because it requires riders in every division to stay and support their teammates, but it is beneficial to know that an IEA show is an all-day event.

3. Sometimes tack isn’t a perfect fit.​ Saddles and stirrups are donated for use by either trainers or owners of the horses, so of course there are times (especially for very tall or short riders) where the rider may have to squeeze themselves into a saddle or wrap the stirrups three times. Generally speaking, saddle and stirrup fit will be reasonable, but riders that are worried about fit could bring their own stirrup leathers to the show.
Bringing a saddle is never permitted, and there are barns that will not let riders use their own stirrup leathers, but most are open to it if the provided leathers are clearly a poor fit. The host barn will always make sure the competitors have the necessary items for a ride, even if this means waiting 10 minutes for someone to search the barn for stirrups that fit; however, it can be extremely helpful in these situations to have a pair ready to go and not hold up a class.

4. Bring your own crop and spurs.​ Although the crops and spurs are supplied by the host barn, competing riders occasionally forget that they are, for example, still wearing the spurs from their earlier ride. An extra pair of spurs and a crop can be super beneficial for times where the items are permitted on a horse, but cannot be located. Spurs seem to be the item that disappear the easiest at shows, so many riders bring their own.
It is essential to check with the stewardess or handler of a horse to make sure the equipment is permitted for said horse (i.e.: spurs and crops of varying sizes may not always get the okay). It is also important to check the IEA division rules because not all divisions use spurs.

5. Judges stay to give comments on your ride after the show.​ This is another great example of the learning experiences IEA provides. Judges will give feedback to all riders on their jumping and flat rounds telling them what they did well and where they lost points. The line for judges’ comments at the end of the show generally stretches pretty far, but as all seasoned IEA riders know, it is well worth the wait.

Author Corie Astroth is an Interscholastic Equestrian Association Zone 10 ambassador and a team member for the Strides Riding Academy in Petaluma.  For more information on the IEA, visit